A NORTH East lettings agency is reaping the rewards of an innovative property scheme that it launched last year with the help of a regional support fund. Heaton Property, based in Newcastle, has been named Property Management Lettings Agency of the Year 2014 at a prestigious national awards ceremony held last week, and has seen turnover increase by some £50,000, after launching ProShare, a service that aims to find professionals their perfect rented home and housemates.

ProShare, which provides an all-inclusive professional house-share arrangement for people in the Newcastle area, was launched last year, with vital support from NBSL's North East Business Support Fund, . The programme, financed by the European Regional Development Fund, provides up to 40 per cent funding towards a project worth up to £3500. The business used the funding to access professional advice regarding licencing and franchising, something managing director Damiano Rea believes allowed Heaton Property to take the new service to market a year before it could have done otherwise.

Mr Rea, who set the company up in 2005, said: "The concept of ProShare is a simple one – we want to find our landlords great tenants, and our tenants great homes and lifestyles. The service is designed to make it really simple for tenants – we take care of everything for them – even down to helping them get to know their new housemates.

"The support we had from NBSL played an absolutely vital role in allowing us to get the service up and running, and it's fantastic that, within a year of launching, we have seen such success. The award we won last week really was great recognition of the innovative approach we take to property management."

He added: "Accessing financial assistance to get the service off the ground really helped to take away some of the risks – what might have been prohibitive from a cost point of view became affordable with the finding NEBSF provided and we were able to get ProShare off to a great start.

"Beyond that, having an NEBSF advisor around to just hold our hand through the process and find a way of offering their support to enable us to get the service off the ground was a real benefit."

The ProShare service is specifically aimed at young professionals who want a hassle-free way to rent. Heaton Property currently fully manage more than 50 ProShare properties, taking care of council tax, utilities, broadband internet and even cleaning services on behalf of tenants. As part of the service the company also makes introductions between the co-habiting tenants, matching them with like-minded professionals and introducing them via social networks like Facebook and Twitter to ensure they find a housemate they like.

John King, North East Business Support Manager at NBSL, said that Heaton Property was a great example of a business using the North East Business Support Fundto deliver a significant business return.

He said: "Heaton Property had a strong business idea, and they accessed funding and used it to run with that idea, which is exactly what the North East Business Support Fund was established to do.

"The support has allowed the business to take the ProShare service quickly to market, and the company is already reaping the benefits – as are the landlords and tenants that use them."

He added: "The funding is available to support a broad range of projects, and it is really quick and easy to apply for. I'd urge businesses to take advantage of the fund."

 

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